Goodison Park, England
October 1, 2011; 11:45 GMT
Three points would be on their mind as the two halves of Liverpool clash this weekend. Whereas Everton has lost to lowly QPR at the beginning of the season, the losses to Stoke City and Tottenham are the only blips in Liverpool’s resurgence. The Merseyside derby, over the years has become one of the most feisty and physical encounters in the Premiership calendar, and the 185th League derby looks to be no different. 11 red cards in the last 15 meetings provides testimony to this fact.
Everton has had a stuttering start to their season. After the opening day loss to QPR, they fought their way back only to lose to probably the best team in the English circuit this year, Man City last weekend.
Liverpool have won three, lost two and drawn one game , so far this season. A win against Everton would mean 13 points from 7 games, which could take them to 4th position at most whereas a loss will send them to the 11th position. The result at Goodison may not really reflect anything about Liverpool’s season that is yet to unfold. But the end of September would be the correct time to assess the situation and make real sense of the club’s aspiration for the European spot. A win would indicate that the team’s ‘recovery’ is on track while a loss could mean – tough times on the road.
Team News and Tactical Brief
I think it is one of the biggest [matches] other than playing for your country in a World Cup. The derby is magical. It is not only the day of the game, it is after, it is before, it is the grudges, the banter. For those 90 minutes the whole of Liverpool stops and you have countries around the world watching. – Tim Cahill
However, Cahill is recovering from the bruised shin he suffered in the last match against Man City. He hasn’t trained this week, but Moyes has refused to leave him out of the squad and will decide on playing him minutes before the kick-off. Moyes is looking to build on the start they have achieved so far this season and will look to the same encounter last year for inspiration. Last year, Everton trounced Liverpool 2-0, with goals coming from Arteta and Cahill.
Injuries continue to plague the blue side of Liverpool, as Victor Anichebe is out of this fixture with a groin injury. David Moyes himself has something to look forward to, as with this fixture, he would join the likes of Harry Catterick and Bill Shankly as the only bosses to have managed teams in Merseyside derbies in 10 consecutive seasons. His last three victories over Liverpool came at the Goodison park itself.
Everton would look to field a flat 4-4-2 formation with Howard manning the posts. The defense line will be marshaled by the likes of Jagielka and Distin, with Hibbert and Baines on either sides. In the midfield, Fellaini and Rodwell would look to control the passing game as much as possible. They would provide support to either of Osman or Coleman, who would then look to find one of their influential attackers – Cahill or Saha.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-2): Howard(GK); Baines, Distin, Jagielka, Hibbert; Osman, Rodwell, Fellaini, Coleman; Cahill, Saha
A huge news for Liverpool would be the availability of Steven Gerrard. However, his inclusion in the starting 11 would depend on how eager Kenny Dalglish is to win the Battle of Merseyside. King Kenny might choose to protect his captain, who, after missing 6 months of football, may find it difficult to come in terms with the tough time Everton will put him through. Gerrard looks good enough to play at least 60 mins on Saturday, and Dalglish is likely to start with him. The bigger Question now is – Who would Gerrard replace? There are 3 ways to do this –
- Put him in place of Carroll and play him beside Suarez
- Replace Adam and play Gerrard in the Middle
- Protect Henderson from the onslaught and put Gerrard on the right.
It is a difficult one to call and your guess is as good as ours. Carroll has worked really hard in the previous match, and therefore does not really deserve to be dropped from the starting eleven. Henderson may not be included, but Dirk Kuyt could be an ideal replacement for Henderson rather than Gerrard. Kuyt has not only been impressive against Everton in the recent history but playing him would actually provide Liverpool the experience to cope with the pressure of the Merseyside derby.
Dalglish’s biggest challenge this season would be to make Suarez and Carroll click. Suarez is brilliant on and off the ball, he can take runs and create for others as well. The Uruguayan is particularly dangerous in and around the box. Carroll isn’t really good off the ball, and likes the ball to be played into him rather than for him, contrasting to Suarez. Carroll is at his best receiving the ball inside the box, either heading it or finishing it with his powerful left foot.
Looking at the average player position on the Ground against Wolves, it becomes increasingly clear that Dalglish wants the number Nine to Drop deep and participate in the build up while Suarez maintains a constant threat to defenders at the top. This way while Suarez gets to play at his best position, Carroll’s gets to play the short passes helping sort the midfield, and then run back into the box and score from final ball, something he is really dangerous at.
Defensively, Liverpool always looks solid and compact in the presence of Daniel Agger. But the Dane is still unavailable for the match and that would mean Skrtel would come in to support Carragher. From Liverpool’s perspective that’s not good news. Skrtel is far too inconsistent and Carragher has become slow off late. Further, with a weak back line, the midfield is under pressure not to lose shape and commit into attacks more often. This in effect dampens the build up and hinders chance creation.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-2): Reina(GK); Enrique, Carragher, Kelly, Skrtel; Downing, Adam, Lucas, Kuyt; Carroll, Suarez
- Liverpool have won just two of their last seven Premier League games away from Anfield.
- Everton have lost only one of their last 14 Premier League games at Goodison Park – a 1-0 defeat by QPR in their first game of this season.
- Jamie Carragher has played 24 Premier League Merseyside derbies, more than any other player.
(Facts courtesy BBC Sport.)
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Seamus Coleman(Everton) and Any Carroll(Liverpool)
Coleman has been an influential presence to say the least and with him in the right side of midfield, Everton has uncovered a player with great pace and attacking intent. On the other hand, Carroll is slowly and steadily gaining back the form as well as his fitness for which he is revered. An unlikely partner in Suarez could see the English international with acres of space that would allow him to score freely.
Everton 1-2 Liverpool
Both the teams has started in an almost equal fashion this season. Everton will look to continue their winning run over their arch-rival when these two teams would clash at the Goodison. Whereas, Liverpool under the guidance of King Kenny are not ready to give an inch. It will be a hard-fought battle and the winner will walk away with the spoils, along with three very important points.